Egypt is becoming aware of the importance of food safety to its people, and for its well-being as a nation. However, it is important to note that Egypt is not alone in these concerns. Here in the US we just experienced our worst outbreak of Salmonella through contaminated vegetables, and the end of our food supply contamination problem is not in sight. The global problem of food safety requires a global approach, so it is heartening as an American to see Egypt move forward as a nation to help solve this worldwide problem. Egypt is joining the growing number of nations who are creating, rational, science-based food safety strategies to protect public health. This is the right thing to do for public health. Ensuring food safety is critical for all of us and a healthy populace will enhance all other public health and safety initiatives. The worldwide food safety problem will be solved as each country advances its own reforms. Thank you Dr. Mansour, for beginning this effort in your wonderful and fascinating country. Please read below.
Food Safety Project Chief: 500,000 Food Violations
By Metwalli Salem, Hisham Yassin and Mohamed Haroun 17/9/2008
The head of the Food Safety Agency Project Hussein Mansour said a workingteam has been formed to prepare a strategic plan of action for the agency once alaw was enacted to establish it.
During a banquet organized by USAID, Mansour said the agency aims at unifyingcontrol over regulations and conditions relating to safe food.
He noted that official reports have monitored increasing rates of fraud onmarkets, adding that the number of food violations reached 500,000 casesannually. The number of officially registered factories amounted to 3000‘, producing 20% of food production while the remaining 80% is produced byunregistered factories.
Mansour noted that the large number of bodies checking food and thedifference in human and technical capabilities of labs might be the reasonbehind low quality of food.
World organizations concerned with human health advised people who travel toEgypt to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Typhoid before traveling for theprobability of taking polluted food or water.
Egypt is considered, according to Mansour, one of the countries where ratesof contracting such viruses are high, especially in case of visiting ruralareas.
Studies conducted by the National Research Institute proved that 100% ofsamples taken from honey are polluted with chloramphenicol, which causes anemiaand spinal atrophy.
Food pollution negatively affects the national economy, he said, noting thatthe US rejected a food shipment from Egypt because it was polluted withpesticides, as well as low quality of packaging
Moreover, the EU rejected a shipment of soybeans and sunflower seeds becausethey were contaminated with aflatoxin.
Mansour warned against the effect of food pollution on general health, whichmight lead to the spread of summer diseases and contracting Hepatitis A andkidney failure.
He noted dairy products sold in rural areas and some cities are considered amain reason for contracting several diseases, such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, typhoid, scarlet fever, diphtheria, yellow fever, paratyphoid and dysentery.
Mansour revealed that a sound animal produces microbe-free meat, but it ispolluted at slaughtering. Studies proved that the average microbes in the meatafter slaughtering hit 216 microbes in each square centimeter and increase to 10-20 millions and 66 millions after reaching the butcher.
Environ Health Associates is part of the strategic planning team mentioned in this article. Together with the Egyptian Food Safety Agency (FSA) we have developed a strategy for the creation of a science based agency. Our specific work involves developing protocols for the agency, developing reporting and monitoring systems, standards, and criteria for inspection and compliance. The team working both in Egypt and the US is focused on developing lab capabilities, ensuring specific laws and rules are in place, and capcity building so that the FSA may operate at a high level of performance upon taking over the reigns of Egyptian food safety policy.